Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Are you on the right road (map)?

Robert X. Cringely once wrote in InfoWorld:

"If the automobile had followed the same development cycle as the computer, a Rolls-Royce would today cost $100, get a million miles per gallon, and explode once a year, killing everyone inside."

Robert brings up a point worth thinking about when you create and implement solutions using IT technology. I am not sure what his thoughts were when he wrote this, but I see a parallel with people jumping on the latest and greatest computer technology because it has the status of a Rolls-Royce, procurement costs are peanuts and the claim on resources is also not worth talking about. But there is also a "subtle" statement that this "latest and greatest" doesn't give us the promised or implied benefits.

Lately I have more questions then answers if all these technological "advancements" in IT are still "pushing" us in the right direction. Don't get me wrong; having a strong engineering background I do appreciate technology in general, in particular when mankind benefits from it.
But making things faster and bigger may not be a benefit.

With the current state of art and common practices in Information Technology I start to have my doubts. Therefor I would like to appeal on all digital architects (enterprise, integration, software, solution, infrastructure) AND users (both organizations as well as individuals) to challenge your thinking with the question: Are we on the right road?

The following experience could illustrate the off-track route.

You stand in front of a counter talking to a representative who stares at his/her computer:
Rep: "How can help you?"
You stated your problem or question.
Rep: "What is your name?"
You give your name (or any other relevant information).
Rep: "You are not in the computer (or system)."
You think: "No, I am standing in front of you."

In the above example: how come you as a person are perceived to be in a computer? What went wrong? More seriously: when information is not in sync with reality, why do users tend to take the information for being the truth? Because a computer doesn't make mistakes? Did we loose our capabilities to observe and use our brain?

A more current example are the phenomena of "social networks" on the internet. While being a fan of networking - using IT and digital communication can make it easy to do so - I think that human individual should be able to stay in control of their personal information. It turns out to be that some makers of social networking software don't want users to permanently delete their data they (re)considered not to be public anymore. And I haven't even started to talk about what governments and commercial organizations do with data about you.

My feeling tells me that it is time to rethink where we are heading in the information age. Just plainly buying the latest and greatest hardware and software offered to us by the developer is certainly not the right direction. Why are so many people and organizations going down that road? Blissful ignorance?

More people and organizations are starting to become aware of the security related threats as well. And this isn't unrelated to the above mentioned "ownership of information". Doc Searls wrote as Senior Editor of Linux Journal recently about "Who is in charge of security?". Related to this are the efforts on VRM, which stands for Vendor Relationship Management, the opposite of CRM. Recommended reading for inspiration!

Like to hear/read your comments!

© Peter Bodifée 2008. All rights reserved

1 comment:

Unknown said...


Thanks for making a pile of excellent points. And for pointing back to both ProjectVRM and my piece about security in Linux Journal.

An additional point about VRM. It's not the "opposite" of CRM any more than men are the opposite of women. They are (or will be) complementary, and in the long run necessary to each other. That's why we've called VRM the reciprocal of CRM. Though that might not be the best term either.

I just wrote some more along these lines in a comment here this morning.